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43410.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:52 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
We can only admire this kind of dedication, grizzly; it's not something that one should question.

Someone I was at school with used to memorise railway timetables as a hobby. Towards the end of term he'd go about asking people where they were off to and advising them which trains to catch, from memory, wherever they lived.

Please, believe me that my question is genuine. I was quite a spotter in my youth (although not by the true definition of the word, I prefer to photograph than collect numbers). It is a rather specialised topic to make such documentation as this, so I was interested as to why it came about with such a passion?

43413.  Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:22 pm Reply with quote

You can drive from Ryde to the station at the Esplanade, so it seems to be out of the running. I don't know many people who would consider Gosport to be a suburb of Portsmouth, even if they are linked by ferry across Portsmouth Harbour. You could claim Waterlooville is a Havant suburb, but again, I don't think it's really a part of Portsmouth.

There's a Railway Arms pub in Gosport, so there must have been a station at some point

43474.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 7:32 am Reply with quote

First of all, a correction. As any fule kno, no-one drives up Ryde Pier to get the ferry for Portsmouth, because the ferry from Ryde Pier Head is for foot passengers and bicycles only. The car ferry from Portsmouth goes to Fishbourne.

But a Google search has revealed the existence of a taxi rank at Ryde Pier Head station. Ergo, it must be possible to drive up Ryde Pier and so it has to be disallowed as an answer to the "station with no road access" question.

Now to Mr Grizzly. Well yes I suppose it is a rather specialised interest. I wrote bus timetables for a salaried job at one point (about 20 years ago), and the interest seems to have stayed with me. It must be because I travel on them and get fed up when it's impossible to work out when and where to do so. Anyway, these days I'm a freelance writer and mini publisher, and I started that particular project when I had nothing better to do one day.

And so back to the thorny subject of towns without stations. I've dug out my notes about censuses and read the rules again.

We must disqualify Dudley as being part of the "Greater Birmingham" conurbation. Newcastle under Lyme is more emotive. There is no "countryside" between it and Stoke on Trent, but people there would get upset if you alleged that their town was part of Stoke (I asked my aunt, who lives in Burslem). E'en so, under the rules Stoke and Newcastle are one place. Disqualified.

I agree with Samivel that Gosport is not generally thought of a suburb of Portsmouth. Under current census rules, two places are separate if there is 50 metres of non-built-up-area between them. This makes Gosport a separate place and therefore it is the answer to the "largest town with no station" question.

Although when I studied demography twenty years ago, the rule was 400 yards. Under that rule, the entire area from Havant to Titchfield, extending to Waterlooville, Portsmouth and via Bridgemary to Gosport constititutes one "place".

So to summarise - under the current 50 metre rule, the largest place with no station is Gosport, and the largest place never to have had a station is Waterlooville.

Under the 400 yard rule, the largest place with no station is Washington. It's not very far from Sunderland, Chester le Street and Gateshead, but it manages the 400 yards on all sides. The largest place never to have had a station under this rule is Canvey Island.

Corby isn't the answer under any conceivable set of rules. Is it an urban myth? Specially since Corby does in fact have a station. (That is to say, there are tracks and platforms and until it got vandalised there was a bus shelter type structure for waiting in.) What Corby lacks is a train service ...

43688.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 5:39 pm Reply with quote

wowww, now that is QI

BTW are we still guessing the station with no road access?

Also, it is interesting about the 50m rule. Seeing as our town has just had a hospital built on the narrow strip of land between my town of Newbury and the town of Thatcham (about half the size of Newbury) that Thatcham has become a conurbation of Newbury and that our town has increased in population by something in the order of 50%. I'll need to get out a tape measure and check though.

gerontius grumpus
43705.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 6:34 pm Reply with quote

I think you'll find the taxi rank for Ryde Pirerhead station is at the foot of the pier and not at the pierhead.

Is there anyone from Ryde out there who can confirm this?

43720.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:20 pm Reply with quote

I'm not from Ryde but there is definitely a taxi rank at the Pier Head, meaning you can drive to the station, although its primary use is for the catamaran passengers.

gerontius grumpus
43725.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:46 pm Reply with quote

My mistake, I haven't been there since 1980.

43747.  Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:59 pm Reply with quote

Andy - my husband is one of the people who would undoubtedly want to buy your book when it becomes available - in the meantime I'll point him at your website. Thanks for the link :-)

43825.  Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:32 am Reply with quote

Jenny's husband is clearly a wonderful man!

Census 2001 considers Newbury/Thatcham to form one "urban settlement". So, by census day, there must have been at least one direction in which the two towns were less than 50m apart. The rules on what is and is not part of a built-up area are quite complicated. For instance, if one brick of that new hospital had been laid by census day, then it's built-up. If planning permission had been granted but work not yet begun, then it isn't (unless the previous land use was also built up).

The Census 2001 population of Newbury/Thatcham was 56,513. This is subdivided into Newbury (32,675) and Thatcham (22,989). You will note that these figures don't add to 56,513 - the difference is accounted for by Greenham, which is part of Newbury/Thatcham, but not part of Newbury proper. (If you are wondering how Greenham manages to be within 50m of Newbury, try measuring towards the racecourse - racecourses are considered "built up".)

Where Newbury stops and Thatcham starts is determined by "local custom and practice". For pairs which have always adjoined (e.g. Chatham/Rochester), the boundary usually follows a road and/or river. Where they have only come to adjoin by recent development (e.g. Newbury/Thatcham), a definition will have been constructed, probably involving arbitrary straight lines.

Finally, I'm still open to offers on the railway station which cannot be accessed by road ...

gerontius grumpus
43945.  Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:25 pm Reply with quote


43948.  Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:32 pm Reply with quote

gerontius grumpus wrote:

I thought that but the station is actually at Hogsmead and this is a village so I don't think it would have 50,000 inhabitants.

44021.  Sat Jan 07, 2006 8:35 pm Reply with quote

That is a such a good answer I wish it was allowable!

I reckon it's time I gave you the real answer though - it's Berney Arms in Norfolk. It's on the route between Norwich and Great Yarmouth via Reedham, about 4 miles outside Yarmouth - the town of 50,000 or so - and is currently served by two trains a day.

The reason for the station's existence is that when the line was being constructed in the 1840s, some of the land was purchased from one Thomas Berney. He made it a condition of the sale that a station be provided in perpetuity to serve the waterside public house he owned. The pub still exists (it's called the Berney Arms of course) and there's also a windmill, but that's about it. There is mooring for boats at the pub, and a long distance footpath goes by, but there is no road nearer than 2 miles away at Halvergate.

I don't swear that this is the only such station in England, but I can recommend the pub!

gerontius grumpus
44206.  Sun Jan 08, 2006 7:42 pm Reply with quote

I thought it might have been a station on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, but now we know.
I'm not absolutely sure but I think the Berney Arms featured in one of Arthur Ransome's books, The Big Six perhaps.

44213.  Sun Jan 08, 2006 8:14 pm Reply with quote

Finally, I'm still open to offers on the railway station which cannot be accessed by road ...

An actual station rather than a halt then presumably. Does some (or any) building or structure make it a station?

44278.  Mon Jan 09, 2006 10:56 am Reply with quote

In the olden days, there was indeed a definition of a "station", chiefly the presence of a station master although I don't think that was the only requirement. Places where one could catch a train but which did not meet the requirements of "station" were termed "halts".

But no more. The term "halt" was effectively abolished by the British Railways Board in, I think, 1968. Since then, anywhere that trains stop in order for passengers to get on and off is a station. Any such place which does not have the modern equivalent of a station master is an "unstaffed station". Even those where trains only stop by request (Berney Arms is such) are stations.

There are, I think, two special cases of halts which still exist - IBM west of Glasgow and Dunrobin Castle in the north of Scotland. Both of these are served by normal public trains, but you need special permission to get on and off there.

I know the term "halt" is still used by many, but no longer does it have an official meaning. As for Berney Arms, it was originally a station (while Thomas Berney was alive), although it was downgraded to a halt thereafter.

None of the above applies to Northern Ireland Railways, which still has halts.


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